Nungwi Beach, Zanzibar: (Day 12) Dec-22-2013

I stayed up late last night talking with Stephanie.  We discussed African culture--how many of the women do most of the work while the men just remain lazy.  Women are not treated well here.  There seems to be NO forward progress, or aspirations for that matter, to better one's life with respect to gender roles and/or standards of living. Maybe it's because people here don't know of that possibility...but there always this aura of helplessness.

Waiting to Board a Ship to Downtown Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Stephanie had spent a while (I think 6 months) in Kenya working in a hospital.  While in Kenya she stayed with a foster family.  The mother of the house--Stephanie calls her Mamma Kenya--was 'rich' by African standards.  They did not have electricity or water, but she did own a few cattle.  The average wage in Zambia is under $1 USD a day.  I imagine it's not too different in the East African countries.

Boarding a Ship to Downtown Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Today has already been a long day and it's not even 10:00 am.  I woke up at 5:30 and we were on the truck by 6:15.  We only had a short ride but had to walk 15 minutes or so in blistering heat to catch a shuttle boat.  We were waiting in the holding area for an hour before we were able to board to boat.  I felt like a cow, caged in a large holding space, waiting to be herded onto a ship.  It was complete chaos.  There were several decks of passengers and the main deck had a few dozen automobiles.  The ship took us over to the main business district of Dar es Salaam.  It was a short--maybe 15 minute--ride.  Most of the people on this ship were locals commuting for work.  Prior to boarding, in the holding area, the men and women were on the left hand side while the women took the right.  Many women were in burkas or saris and both men and women had very serious looks on their faces.  This city does not come off as friendly as the other towns we've been to so far.

Our Tour Group Waiting to Board our Ship to Down Town Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Once we arrived in the business district of Dar es Salaam we had to walk another 30-45 minutes.  This was quite a task given that even at 8:00 am the heat was unbearable!  Also, we were lugging all of our baggage.  We had stripped down our belongings and only took with us what we thought we needed for our three nights in Zanzibar.  I left my overnight bag on the truck and stuffed my day-pack to its limits.

Fishing Boats in the Indian Ocean, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
We got to where we were going to catch the 2-hr ferry to Zanzibar and still had a bit of time.  Since the building was air-conditioned--the first a/c I've had in over 2 weeks--most of the tour group stayed inside and relaxed.  However Cara and I ventured out into the city.  We both bought water--my 6L water jug was only 2,500 shilling ($1.67 USD).  I filled my 3L bladder in my pack, and my extra 1/2L jug that I carry in my bag's side pocket.  My bag must weight 20-30 lbs now.

I am wearing my hat, Under Armour t-shirt, North Face pants, and my Clark boots (no socks), Timex analog watch w/ built in alarm clock, and a pair of Exofficio boxer briefs.  I have brought along a bathing suite, thongs, one more tight fitting t-shirt for the beach, a long-sleeved technical shirt, and two thick merino wool socks.  In addition to my clothing I have my 1st aid kit (which I've been using quite a bit), various meds, toiletries, Camera (+ extra lens and batteries), tablet/keyboard, external power pack and USB cable, a GPS tracking unit (I've been using this to track my entire trip), folding knife, sunglasses, bug-spray, sun tan lotion, headlamp, passport (w/ yellow fever cert), money-belt, fleece jacket, rain poncho, Sea-to-Summit quick-drying towel, and a few other items.

The process of boarding the ferry to Zanzibar was fucking crazy.  We must have waited in line for 30 minutes before we were able to get through security.  The line was chaotic, people scrambling to pass others.  There was no shade and I felt point fighting it any more.  I let the sweat just drip off me as I continued to drink.  Whether or not today has been the hottest day yet is hard to say for certain.  We are directly in heat, and have been so all morning long, and everyone is carrying pounds and pounds of baggage.

We dropped the 3 Swedes off yesterday afternoon and are picking up 3 new recruits today.  I believe 2 have already joined us, but I'm not sure when/how they met up with us--Stephanie had pointed them out in line just prior to our passing through security.  We pick up the last person once we are in Zanzibar.

Before security when I was in line to show my ferry ticket there was a woman sitting and nursing her child.  Her shirt was completely off and she showed no modesty, despite the 100+ people that were within 20 feet of her.  Other women held their babies across their backs, wrapped in cloth.  Most of the children were covered by the fabric, but some were fully exposed to the sun's intense rays.  I can't even begin to imagine how hot it must have been for a child to be have their body completely wrapped up and under a restricting blanket--absolutely no ventilation whatsoever.

This ferry is shockingly very nice.  There are 4 sun-decks and a middle, air-conditioned, deck.  I choose the middle deck.  There are 6 Samsung TVs hanging throughout the cabin playing some American movie--probably with a title sounding something like "Heist", or something of that nature.

It's 10:20 now and we should arrive in Zanzibar around noon.  We have a ride waiting for us to take us to the northern park of Zanzibar, where we will remain for the next 2 nights.  We can opt for a spice tour, which is somewhere along our ride up north.  If not enough people decide to do it we will have to all go to the hotel and then later take a taxi back for the spice tour--though I'm sure most people will want to take the tour.

SOME THOUGHTS:  I've gotten used to the horrible body odor that is pervasive in Africa.  I've learned that African cuisine is mostly rice, beans, potatoes, and occasionally chicken.  Africa is not the place to go to to eat exotic foods, at least not east Africa.  It is as plain as you can get.  Some food for thought--why is it that in Africa the cuisine is so basic, while in most other 3rd-world regions the cuisine is much more sophisticated?  Everything about Africa is just stunted...corrupt governments (that the people elect), inefficient (lacking) work ethic, and an embarrassing lack of education (despite that most nations offer free education through age 18).  As I look around, even the 'well to do' people just appear leaps and bounds behind the rest of the world.  A man to the left of me is trying to change the battery on his phone and he is struggling on figuring out which side is up...success after only 3 minutes.  A man behind me hunts and pecks on his computer like it's his first time typing on a keyboard.  Seeing as it's his computer I doubt that is the case.  Back in Chipata, Malawi one of the lodge workers could not figure out how to even type in the password to grant me access to use the internet.  He spent 30  seconds typing in 4 letters and the screen had a warning massage on it that he had needed to click "accept" before he could type.  He was typing not realizing the characters were not being recorded.  It's a shame large corporations can't come here and build factories for unskilled labor.  It would be such cheap labor, plus it would help the ridiculously high unemployment rate.

Nutmeg, On our Spice Tour, Zanzibar  
Jackfruit, Spice Tour, Zanzibar
A man to the right of me seems to have had polio--I help him button his shirt as had been struggling for a while.

Back in Dar es Salaam--while we were walking to catch the ferry--I saw a young man who had club feet.  He was walking on the complete outsides of his feet.  His soles were completely exposed as he walked.  He did manage to get by though.

After we arrived in Zanzibar we had to take a private van to where our beach resort was--Amaan Bungalows in Nungwi Beach.  This was in the north, and about a 1.5 hour drive from where we were.  6 of us wanted to take the spice tour so we had gotten off about about an hour from our hotel and left out bags with the group--they would drop our stuff off at reception.

Urucu Fruit, On our Spice Tour, Zanzibar
Using Red Pigment an Urucu, Spice Tour, Zanzibar
I am really shocked that the majority of the trip decided against the spice tour--maybe it was because it had already been such a long day and they wanted to enjoy the weather?

The spice tour was very fun, though a bit too long if you ask me.  Although none of the spices originated from Zanzibar they are grown for the tourists, which is fine by me.  They had everything I could think of; cinnamon, clove, ginger, vanilla, nutmeg, cardamom, pepper, and the list goes on and on!  There were bananas, mangoes, avocados, pineapples, coconuts, grapefruit, jackfruit, coffee beans, and 4 or 5 other fruits that I've never heard of before.

Climbing a Tree, Spice Tour, Zanzibar
We had a guide walking us around the plantation and another guy who climbed the trees to get us samples.  He showed us the plant that Indians use for henna and the flowering tree that is used in Chanel no. 5.  He pointed out a red flowing tree that had these interesting-looking shells that when cracked open exposed fiery-red bb-sized fruits.  He smashed the fruits and put the resulting liquid on his lips, head, and hair.  He was indicating the use of the red pigment from the fruit.  Women used it for lipstick, Indians for there 'dot', and the Masai use it to die their hair red.

 Preparing Coconut, Spice Tour, Zanzibar 
At the end of the tour a man climbed a humongous coconut tree while singing a joyful song.  He brought down 3 coconuts for us to taste.  He then took out his knife and carved away the shell of the coconut and exposed the milk for us to drink.  After we drank the milk he carved away a bit more, created a makeshift spoon, and let us eat the gooey flesh of the coconut.

I like coconut when it has been dried, not when it's fresh.  Oh, before I forget, we were able to taste coffee beans directly from the tree.  They were in a soft red shell...nothing like I had imagined.  The gooey surroundings of the coffee bean tasted great, but the un-dried bean was nothing to write home about.--maybe blog home about though!

Tasting, Spice Tour, Zanzibar

Afterwards, we tasted the fruit that was grown on the plantation and were able to buy some of their local spices...go figure.

Hotel's Main Deck, Zanzibar
I purchased a cardamom and vanilla tea.  I have yet to test it out, but for $2 USD it wasn't much of an investment on my end.

We finally got to our hotel around 4:00 and after dealing with the inefficiencies of Africa I was in my room 45 minutes later.  I have 3 twin beds, air conditioning, a mini-fridge, and a shower.  I have large windows on one entire side of my room--the wall that faces the beach.

I walked in the water for a sec, jumped in the pool and swam for a while.

My Room in Zanzibar
I inquired about snorkeling and getting a massage.  Our group met at the hotel's main restaurant at 7:00.  Our food finally came just before 8:30.  I had ordered an avocado and prawn salad along with a chicken red curry masala.  Both were quite good, though expensive by African standards.  The dinner was 31,000 Tanzanian Shillings, or around $21 USD.
Avocado and Prawn Salad, Zanzibar

I went to bed around 9:30, just after going down to the beach to watch a few hermit crabs come up and scurry about the sand.  It was a riot seeing how fast they could run with their little claws above their heads.  I watched the movie, "Kickass" then went to bed.  A very long day.

Enjoying the Spice Tour, Zanzibar

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: (Day 11) Dec-21-2013

A Very Poor Night's Sleep in Mikumi, Tanzania
Last night was probably the worst ever...the sleeping part at least.  It was so hot yet I had so sleep inside my sleeping bag because the mosquitos were everywhere.  I was sweating outside, imagine how I felt inside a place with poor ventilation and inside an insulated sleeping bag.  What made things even worse was that I had a black mosquito net wrapped around my face and neck.  I applied my 12 hour 'bug spray' lotion on my face, neck, and arms liberally.  After the heat became too much to bare I finally took my arms outside of the bag.  I took my mosquito net off my face every so often to cool down, but this didn't work.  I was so uncomfortable--sweating, too hot to even consider sleeping.  I just wanted it to end.  Somehow I finally got to sleep around 2, though I was well awake before 4.  2 hours of sleep--it will have to do.  Cara was kind enough to invite Stephanie and me to sleep in her room.  Stephanie took the other bed and I took the ground.

The accommodated (people in rooms) had an included breakfast, while us 4 campers had to resort to bread and cereal...again!  I sat with Sonia and Hans and skipped breakfast.  Unfortunately by the time I made it back to the bus Godfrey and Tabby had already packed away the lunch material for the day...we had to pack our own lunches today since it would be a long day on the bus.  FUCK!  No breakfast and no lunch today...this will be rough.

Driving Through Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
After 30 minutes or so we stopped to refill on Petrol.  I went into the gas station and picked up the only food that I saw.  3 Dairy Milk bars (2 small, 1 large), a Snickers bar,  and a small pack of cashew nuts.  Within 15 minutes I had eaten two of the smaller Dairy Milks, the Snickers Bar, and the cashews...not my proudest moment.

I took some Xanax (.75mg) and within an hour I was asleep.  I drifted off and on (most on) for the next 6 hours.  I was awoken from the immense noise emanating from the streets.  We had made it to Dar es Salaam.  It was ~1:00pm.  We had to drop Ann Marie, Hans, and Sonia off at their hotel--they were leaving the tour here.  We were going to pick up 3 or 4 new people tomorrow at the lodge that we are staying at here in Dar es Salaam.  They will be with us through Nairobi.

Driving Through Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
It took several hours to traverse the city's less than enjoyable traffic.  We did, however, manage to sneak in a 30 minute stroll in the city while Godfrey bought the ferry tickets to Zanzibar.  I believe that Zanzibar will have wireless internet...WOW, what a luxury!

It's gotta be among the hottest days here in Africa--we are closer to the equator so that makes sense.  Must be 100+ degrees and ultra-humid.

I have been thinking a lot about the logistics of when I take my RTW trip in the coming years.  Certain things are going to be a challenge.  Some things I've been considering are--how to get 12 months of Rxs, dealing with my 'stuff' back at home, finding a job and health insurance pending my arrival back home, etc.

It's about 3:15pm now and we're still driving.  Since we left at 6:00am sharp this morning 9 hours on this hot non-air conditioned bus is a nuisance.

Bungalow at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
I talked with Paul (the Aussie) a bit.  He was telling me that he had taken a year off to travel with his, now, wife.  We discussed all the places he visited.  He told me their original plans were to go for 2 years but after a year they had grown a bit tired of living out of a bag.  Both he, and his wife Erika, are Psychiatrists...along with Cara.  They seem to travel a bunch with their children.  They've been to Vietnam, Borneo, India, Egypt, and a few other places--all with their children.  This is the lifestyle I am striving for.

Hopefully we can get to our campsite before 4:30 so that we can enjoy the cooler sun prior to its setting.  I think an upgrade is in order for me tonight.  Last night it was $50/room which I thought was a bit much, so I opted out.  However the showers were very nice, even if the water had little/no pressure and there were no lights.

Inside Bungalow at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Arrived around 4:30pm.  I upgraded to a small bungalow for $8.  It is mostly just a wooden cabin with a thatched roof.  The only materials used are wood--holes in the wall for windows, gaps in the constructions of the entire cabin.  There is enough room for a small a animal to sneak under my door.  It's a bit hot so I'm leaving the door open.  We have wooden fences around our lodges.  We're about 40 feet from the Indian Ocean.  I didn't have a chance to go in today, but will once I'm in Zanzibar.

When I arrived I did laundry...all my clothing was dirty.  I laid my clothing on my cabin roof to dry.  Dinner sucked...again.  It feels like I'm in college again.  Godfrey is really getting out of my nerves.  I can't quite put my finger on it, but some of the other people felt similarly.

We have to wake up early to leave by 6:00am sharp tomorrow.  We catch the ferry to Zanzibar at 9:30am tomorrow.  Sorry for the short entry, it's 11:30pm and I'm tired.


Drying Clothes Atop My Bungalow at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania